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1 Corinthians 4:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Judge nothing before the time - God, the righteous Judge, will determine every thing shortly: it is his province alone to search the heart, and bring to light the hidden things of darkness. If you be so pure and upright in your conduct, if what you have been doing in these divisions, etc., be right in his sight, then shall you have praise for the same; if otherwise, yourselves are most concerned. Some refer the praise to St. Paul and his companions: Then shall every one of us apostles have praise of God.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Therefore - Inview of the danger of being deceived in your judgment, and the impossibility of certainly knowing the failings of the heart.

Judge nothing - Pass no decided opinion; see the note at Matthew 7:1. The apostle here takes occasion to inculcate on them an important lesson - one of the leading lessons of Christianity - not to pass a harsh opinion on the conduct of any man, since there are so many things that go to make up his character which we cannot know; and so many secret failings and motives which are all concealed from us.

Until the Lord come - The Lord Jesus at the Day of Judgment, when all secrets shall be revealed, and a true judgment shall be passed on all men.

Who both will bring to light; - See Romans 2:10.

The hidden things of darkness - The secret things of the heart which have been hidden as it were in darkness. The subsequent clause shows that this is the sense. He does not refer to the deeds of night, or those things which were performed in the secret places of idolatry, but to the secret designs of the heart; and perhaps means gently to insinuate that there were many things about the character and feelings of his enemies which would not well bear the revelations of that Day.

The counsels of the hearts - The purposes, designs, and intentions of men. All their plans shall be made known on that Day. And it is a most fearful and alarming truth, that no man can conceal his purposes beyond the Day of Judgment.

And then shall every man have praise of God - The word here rendered “praise” ἔπαινος epainosdenotes in this place reward, or that which is due to him; the just sentence which ought to be pronounced on his character. It does not mean as our translation would imply, that every man will then receive the divine approbation which will not be true; but that every man shall receive what is due to his character, whether good or evil. So Bloomfield and Bretschneider explain it. Hesychius explains it by judgment ( κρισις krisis). The word must be limited in its signification according to the subject or the connection. The passage teaches:

(1) That we should not be guilty of harsh judgment of others.

(2) the reason is, that we cannot know their feelings and motives.

(3) that all secret things will be brought forth in the great Day, and nothing be concealed beyond that time.

(4) that every man shall receive justice there. He shall be treated as he ought to be. The destiny of no one will be decided by the opinions of people; but the doom of all will be fixed by God. How important is it, therefore, that we be prepared for that Day; and how important to cherish such feelings, and form such plans, that they may be developed without involving us in shame and contempt!

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.
Ellen G. White
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 124

“Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. We cannot read the heart. Ourselves faulty, we are not qualified to sit in judgment upon others. Finite men can judge only from outward appearance. To Him alone who knows the secret springs of action, and who deals tenderly and compassionately, is it given to decide the case of every soul. MB 124.1

“Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1. Thus those who condemn or criticize others, proclaim themselves guilty, for they do the same things. In condemning others, they are passing sentence upon themselves, and God declares that this sentence is just. He accepts their own verdict against themselves. MB 124.2

“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heartstrings of a friend.”
MB 124.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 333

The Captain of our salvation leads His people on step by step, purifying and fitting them for translation, and leaving in the rear those who are disposed to draw off from the body, who are not willing to be led, and are satisfied with their own righteousness. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” No greater delusion can deceive the human mind than that which leads men to indulge a self-confident spirit, to believe that they are right and in the light, when they are drawing away from God's people, and their cherished light is darkness. 1T 333.1

The class in —— who have been drawing off from the body have possessed a hard, bitter spirit against those whom God is using as His instruments to bring His people up united upon the only true platform. Their spirit is opposed to the work of God, and their influence has brought reproach upon the cause of God, and has made our faith disgusting to unbelievers, and caused Satan to exult. Those who are walking in church capacity and trying to serve God, may for a time be annoyed with those among them who are not right, and who have been shown me as self-righteous and pharisaical; but if they are patient, and walk humbly before God, earnestly praying for His power and Spirit, they will advance, and those who are unsound in the faith will be left behind. 1T 333.2

Brother J was presented before me, and I was shown that his course has not been pleasing to God. He was unstable. He has been befogged with the Age-to-Come, and as there is not the least harmony between the Age-to-Come theory and the third angel's message, he lost his love for and faith in the message, and felt irritated because so much had been said in regard to it. The third angel is proclaiming a most solemn message to the inhabitants of the earth; and shall God's chosen people be indifferent to it, and not unite their voice to sound this solemn warning? Brother J is deceived, and is deceiving others. His theme has been consecration, when his heart was not right. His mind has been divided. He has had no anchor to hold him, and has been floating about without a settled faith. Much of his time has been occupied in relating to one and another reports and stories calculated to distract and unsettle minds. He has had much to say in regard to my husband and myself, and against the visions. He has stood in a position, “Report, ... and we will report it.” God sent him not on such a mission. He has not known whom he has been serving. Satan has been using him to throw minds into confusion. What little influence he had he has used to prejudice minds against the third angel's message. He has by false reports presented the visions in a wrong light, and weak souls who were not established in all the present truth have fed upon these things instead of clean provender thoroughly winnowed. He has been deceived in regard to sanctification. Unless he now changes his course, and is willing to be instructed, and cherishes the light given, he will be left of God to pursue his own course and follow his own imperfect judgment until he will make shipwreck of faith, and by his unwise course become a signal warning to those who choose to go independent of the body. God will open the eyes of honest souls to understand the cruel work of those who scatter and divide. He will mark those who cause divisions, that every honest one may escape from Satan's snare. 1T 333.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 590

The workers should take Jesus with them in every department of their labor. Whatever is done should be done with an exactness and thoroughness that will bear inspection. The heart should be in the work. Faithfulness is as essential in life's common duties as in those involving greater responsibility. Some may receive the idea that their work is not ennobling; but this is just as they choose to make it. They alone are capable of degrading or elevating their employment. We wish that every drone might be compelled to toil for his daily bread, for work is a blessing, not a curse. Diligent labor will keep us from many of the snares of Satan, who “finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” 4T 590.1

None of us should be ashamed of work, however small and servile it may appear. Labor is ennobling. All who toil with head or hands are workingmen or workingwomen. And all are doing their duty and honoring their religion as much while working at the washtub or washing the dishes as they are in going to meeting. While the hands are engaged in the most common labor, the mind may be elevated and ennobled by pure and holy thoughts. When any of the workers manifest a lack of respect for religious things, they should be separated from the work. Let none feel that the institution is dependent upon them. 4T 590.2

Those who have long been employed in our institutions should now be responsible workers, reliable in every place, as faithful to duty as the compass to the pole. Had they rightly improved their opportunities, they might now have symmetrical characters and a deep, living experience in religious things. But some of these workers have separated from God. Religion is laid aside. It is not an inwrought principle, carefully cherished wherever they go, into whatever society they are thrown, proving as an anchor to the soul. I wish all the workers carefully to consider that success in this life and success in gaining the future life depend largely upon faithfulness in little things. Those who long for higher responsibilities should manifest faithfulness in performing the duties just where God has placed them. 4T 590.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 626

Brother B, you are not as these men. We would not compare you to them, but we would say: Beware of walking in their footsteps and of having your conversation with covetousness. This desire on the part of ministers to obtain means for selfish purposes is a snare to them, which, if they continue in, will prove their overthrow. As they get their eyes upon self, their interest in the prosperity of God's cause, and their love for poor souls, become less and less. They do not lose their love for, and interest in, the truth at once. Their departure from the cause of right is so gradual and imperceptible that it is frequently difficult to tell the time when the change in them took place. 2T 626.1

I think your course highly dangerous. You have not felt the necessity of heeding the light which God has given you, and arousing yourself to save your family, acquitting yourself as a father and priest of your household. You did not deny the light given, you did not rise up against it; but you neglected to carry it out because it was not convenient and agreeable to your feelings to do this. Therefore you were like Meroz. You came not up to the help of the Lord, although the matter was of so vital consequence as to affect the eternal interests of your children. You neglected your duty. In this respect you were a slothful servant. You have but little sense of how God regards the neglect of parents to discipline their children. Had you reformed here, you would have seen the necessity of the same effort to maintain discipline and order in the church. Your slackness in your family has been seen also in your labors in the church. You cannot build up the church until you are a transformed man. 2T 626.2

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